How’s it going LAFB Network family! With the Covid-19 regulations letting up, new light begins to shine on our fantasy hopes…hopefully.
Some of those summer rays might be the exact thing the Rams need to take them out of the bottom tier for rushing. Many of those wavy rays are going to highlight the Rams 2019 explosion of a receiving game. The Rams finished 26th in the rushing attack but skyrocketed their stats in the passing game finishing 5th overall.
Fantasy Outlook: Forecasting The Los Angeles Rams RB & WR
Before we dig too deep into this “grading” and “forecasting” I suppose I should let you in on a secret. I am not a teacher nor professor so these grades are completely subjective. This subject, myself, did use stats and analysis to form some kind of opinion on these grades so you do have that to lean on.
To begin, I wanted to start with the Running Backs. They are most of our first picks in the draft so why not. Last year’s NFL 2019 Top Fantasy RB Performer was Carolina Panthers running back, Christian McCaffrey.
CMC Rushing Attack
Attempts – 287
Yards – 1,387
TDs – 15
CMC Receiving Game
Targets – 142
Receptions – 116
Yards – 1,005
TDs – 4
It’s clear that CMC is 100% an A on the RB charts. He was handed the ball 287 times out of 386 team rushing attempts, garnering almost 75% of the backfield work. Clearly he was a handful for defenders when it came to keeping the ball on the ground. But when it came to the pass work, McCaffrey took off.
Christian McCaffrey ended the 2019 NFL season with 469.2 fantasy points (PPR). 240 of that is from his receiving game alone. And simple math proves that 240 is more than half of 469.2, which means most of his points came from receptions.
Enough pumping you guys with things you already knew. The Rams top RB performer of the 2019 season was Todd Gurley. Gurley ended up finishing 14th in fantasy when it came to his peers. Quite a few notches under McCaffrey but let’s see why.
Todd Gurley Rushing Attack
Attempts – 223
Yards – 857
TDs – 12
Todd Gurley Receiving Game
Targets – 49
Receptions – 31
Yards – 207
TDs – 2
With these numbers, 14th doesn’t seem as bad. Not cracking a thousand yards when the year before Gurley was 3rd among RBs in rushing (1,251), AND led the league with 17 TDs on the ground. He even tallied up 4 receiving TDs.
Now regression is inevitable, boys and girls. Gurley reaching another season with 21 total TDs wasn’t going to be likely but 14 in 2019, not very enticing. Seven TDs less is 42 points that Gurley isn’t scoring and that’s not accounting the yards he gained for the score OR the reception.
When you compare Gurley’s numbers this year to those of McCaffrey’s, it might be like comparing apples to oranges. McCaffrey is “play on all downs” athlete while Gurley became the “groundwork” in the Rams offense.
More so than that, the Rams had some drama in the works during the preseason and season in regards to sustaining Gurley’s health. Los Angeles had 1,499 rushing yards in 2019 and Gurley was only 857 of them. Carolina, on the other hand, had 1,819 rushing yards total with McCaffrey being 1,387 yards.
In all, Gurley finished with a fantasy total of 221.4 points that got him to the 14th spot. This isn’t an A by all means but I think on his official report card giving him a B- or C+ would be justified. He wasn’t a spitting image of last year’s Todd Gurley but it might have been enough to get our fantasy teams in the playoff picture.
Rookie Addition: Cam Akers
Enough with the history lesson, I want to check out the Rams first, 2nd round pick.
Florida State alum Cam Akers took the average running back road when going through college. He played until his junior year and signed the papers to be drafted.
His college numbers, however, shouldn’t be a reflection on what we should think of the man. His freshman year, if we did college fantasy football, succumbed to 178.1 fantasy points. Then 156.1 his sophomore year, until his junior year where he truly blossomed with 274.9.
Now, what does this mean? Well with Gurley’s 221.4 fantasy points saying ta’ ta’ to the rest of us, Akers might be able to fit in our fantasy black-hole. Of course, that’s not saying professional football players are equivalent to those on the college level but it might give us an idea of where the Rams fantasy output might spit out.
In Akers junior year he had:
Attempts – 231
Rush Yards – 1,144
Rush TDs – 14
Receptions – 30
Receiving Yards – 225
Receiving TDs – 4
If we were to compare the last stats both players produced, Akers would be ahead of Gurley in everything except receptions. Eight more rushing attempts, 287 rushing yards, two rushing TDs, 18 receiving yards, two receiving TDs; all more than Gurley and his 14th fantasy finish.
Akers actually would have finished 7th overall among RBs from last year. Before names like Leonard Fournette, Nick Chubb, Saquon Barkley, and more. With all that being said, Akers would be a solid B on the report card.
Let’s switch gears now and take a peek at the WRs and how the LA Rams lined up to the bell curve.
Last year’s top performer was the New Orleans Saints reception monster Michael Thomas.
Targets – 185
Receptions – 149
Yards – 1,725
TDs – 9
Similar to Carolina, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints juiced this fruit until its last drop with 374.6 fantasy points. Michael Thomas put up fantasy praiseworthy numbers last season leading the league in all mentioned categories (Targets, Receptions, Yards) except for TDs. Kenny Golladay gets to claim that fame with 11.
In that same TD race, the Los Angeles Rams own Cooper Kupp ended up 2nd with 10 TDs through the air. Compared to the rest of the NFL in overall fantasy points, Kupp finished 4th with 270.5 points. Here’s what his outcome looks like:
Targets – 134
Receptions – 94
Yards – 1,161
TDs – 10
Its no 374.6 points but you can’t really complain when Thomas scored literally 100 points more than his fellow WRs. This had me thinking that maybe this grading scale should look at the WR corps as a whole to get a better gauge of the true comparison between the offenses.
#14 Robert Woods (LAR) 232.9 Fantasy Points
Targets – 139
Receptions – 90
Yards – 1,134
TDs – 2
#61 Brandin Cooks (LAR) 117.5 Fantasy Points
Targets – 72
Receptions – 42
Yards – 583
TDs – 2
#81 Ted Ginn Jr. (NO) 85.9 Fantasy Points
Targets – 56
Receptions – 30
Yards – 421
TDs – 2
#91 Tre’Quan Smith (NO) 71.4 Fantasy Points
Targets – 25
Receptions – 18
Yards – 234
TDs – 5
When you take a step back and look at the output from the top WRs on each team we can see Thomas’s season is an enigma compared to the other players. As a whole, the Saints tallied up 531.9 fantasy points. The Rams actually blew the Saints out of the water with 620.9 fantasy points.
Not only that, but the Rams also sustained two WRs in yardage with Kupp and Woods receiving over 1,000 yards. Ginn and Smith didn’t pan out as well. Combined they had 157.3 fantasy points which is right above Brandin Cooks but still leaps and bounds behind Thomas, Kupp, or Woods.
If I were to grade Kupp, Woods and Cooks on the Michael Thomas scale, the report card might look like this:
Michael Thomas – A+
Cooper Kupp – A- / B+
Robert Woods – B
Brandin Cooks – D
Kupp was a top performer this past season, there’s no doubt about it, but week in and week out he had nowhere near the consistency or dominance that Thomas carried.
For Woods, it seemed as though he was fighting for his job against Cooks and the numbers show. Woods didn’t put up many TDs but his receptions and yardage speak for themselves.
Cooks at best had FLEX potential but wasn’t someone you could win a week with.
Before any training camps take way, let’s say that Jefferson (2nd second-round pick) and Hopkins (4th round pick) do well and get signed to the final roster. That would be all and dandy but what are the Rams gaining?
With Jefferson, he began his college career at Ole Miss but finished as a Florida Gator. At Ole Miss Van Jefferson wasn’t being utilized. When he left, Jefferson amounted to only 999 receiving yards, 91 receptions, and four TDs.
Not great after two years in a program. As a Gator, Jefferson’s numbers made a notable jump: 84 receptions, 1,160 yards, and 12 TDs. In fantasy numbers, he went from 214.9 points at Ole Miss to 272 with the Gators.
Brycen Hopkins, on the other hand, was a Purdue Boilermaker from start to finish in his college career. Not only that, but his numbers also improved every year while a Boilermaker. As a freshman Hopkins had 52.3 fantasy points, 77.9 as a sophomore, 94.3 in his junior year, and 186 as a senior.
More and more Purdue leaned on him as a starter but what I like the most are his stats from his final year. 61 receptions, 830 yards, and seven TDs, amongst the NFL TEs he would have finished 7th in fantasy. More shocking would be the fact that he actually scored more fantasy points than Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett.
Both of which he would be the back up to. Hopkins and Jefferson are in quite some line to get their starting spots on the roster but have plenty potential to claw their ways to the top. In all, I would give Jefferson a C- and Hopkins a B-. Jefferson’s numbers don’t exactly explode off the page like Hopkins and Akers. If we tallied Jefferson’s fantasy total, he would’ve finished as the WR 46, while the other rookies were in the upper echelon.